Showing posts with label Christian pop culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian pop culture. Show all posts
Monday, March 7, 2011 | By: Zachary Bartels

When Killing Pets Gets Fun


Why Lent Will Last Five Months

This is going to be huge, people. And by that, I mostly mean that it’s going to be really long, but I also mean that—in the context of my little life and ministry—it may prove rather significant. Or not.

Back story: My wife and I went to a John Reuben concert last Friday at the beautiful State Theatre in my home town of Bay City, Michigan. Of course, it was incredible, as Mr. Zappin is one of the best showmen working today and knows how to ramp up the energy in a crowd with no effort at all. His music is also snappy.

Man, the camera on my cell phone sucks...

Now, I used to be the first guy in the mosh pit and the last guy out, but since about 2003, I'd rather sit and enjoy the performance. I hate it when I have to stand up at a concert in order to see. I mean, you pay for a seat, right? So, I was pleased to find a couple spots in the balcony with a great view of the stage. Add to that the dirt-cheap popcorn, Raisinets, and Mt. Dew from the snack bar and I was in concert heaven. An up-and-coming regional group called the Matt Moore Band opened up; they were great, and I’m sure they’ll be hitting the national scene soon.

Understand that Pastor Zach has been to a lot of concerts. From 1994-1996, I was a deejay at a Christian music station (89.1 FM, WTRK the ROCK), and the benefits package consisted of free trips to pretty much every Christian concert in the area. The summer months were the busiest, when I went to at least one concert a week, usually more. I saw a lot of merch tables and intentional branding. I heard a lot of rather Finneyistic altar calls. I could fill volumes with the raspy pseudo-theological musings that I heard from A, B, and C-list Christian singers.

And I loved it.

Shortly after leaving that gig, I became a youth pastor. i.e., lots more concerts, lots more merch, lots more “talks”. With my graduation from college, my marriage, and the birth of my son, that sort of thing has gone by the wayside, as I suppose it should.

But attending this concert just down the road from where I used to spin CDs was a bizarre, deja-vu-ish experience. Although for different reasons (back stage pass, manning the radio station’s booth, keeping an eye on squirrely youth group members, etc.), I often watched those many former concerts from a detached distance as well, occasionaly while munching on green room goodies. Add in the fact that the place was 90% youth group kids, and I felt a bit as if I had travelled back in time to re-experience the sort of live-music-induced, uber-positive vibes that I rarely encounter these days.

And, man, was this show—in every way—postive! Reuben led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to an elated 8th grade girl near the front. He “opened the mic to any other emcees in the building,” an exercise which netted three eleven-year-old kids who called themselves Triple Beat and a painfully dorky forty-five year old dad who filled his embarrassing my kids quota for the next decade. Through all this, Reuben remained steadfastly amped and upbeat. There was no hint of bitterness that he used to play venues ten times bigger (perhaps he still does); he poured himself into that show like he would have if there were fifty thousand people present. My hat is off to the man.

So what does this have to do with Lent? (Or killing pets?) Well, in the after-glow of this event, I decided what I would give up for Lent this year (cue Fundie joke about giving up “popish traditions”). It’s actually quite fitting, given the nostalgic turn of the night, as my devotional life was completely wound up in my concert-going, raspy-spiritual-talk-hearing, T-shirt-slogan, high-pressure-invitation-witnessing life during my deejay days.

So here it is: I’m giving up spiritual negativity. Seriously.

What does this mean? Well, it resists being described succinctly. For starters, it means I won’t be listening to certain podcasts or regularly reading certain blogs—the ones dedicated to exposing the false teachings of everyone everywhere and slaying heretics with a fiery sword, the ones that often (literally) make a game out of spotting and crushing error. It means I won’t be writing those kinds of blog posts myself. It means skipping the semi-regular portion of my sermon where I show how wrong “certain preachers” (always unnamed) are in their interpretation of this or that text. It means I’ll resist the urge to go off on Christian music, movies, and T-shirts for being so trite, stupid, and embarrassing . . . even when they are.

What does it not mean? Well, I’m not losing my Gen X sarcastic sense of humor, for starters. I’m not bailing on writing my chapters for Beauty and the Mark of the Beast (which almost immediately stopped being a critique of anything and started just being a goofy literary cartoon).I’m not setting aside the use of the Law in my preaching or my evangelism. I’m not shirking my responsibility to discernment in my pastoral ministry (i.e., if someone asks me about a given teaching or teacher, I will respond biblically and truthfully; ibid if a prominent false teaching begins to affect my congregation and must be dealt with . . . I just won’t be searching and destroying heresies like Dog the Bounty Hunter).

And most imporantly, I’m not changing my mind about the legitimacy or importance of contending for the Faith once for all handed down to the saints, calling spiritual error what it is, and comparing what people say in God’s name to what God actually said in His Word. Yes, I am aware that a lot of what Paul, John, James, and even Jesus wrote/said could potentially be branded “spiritual negativity.” I am aware that the same people who throw around the terms “heresy hunter” and “doctrine cop” in a derisive way would probably be horrified if they read the Church Fathers.

But here’s the thing: for Jesus and his apostles, contending against wolves was not the main event. Preaching the Gospel was. Dealing with false teachers and creeping error was an unfortunate necessity. I’m afraid that, for many today, it’s not the fishing but the hunting that really gets them going. I can see myself very slowly trending in that direction. And that is not good.

Let me put it this way: my childhood cat, Clifford (who was with the family for 21 years) was recently given to a nice family who lives on a farm. In other words, he was driven to the vet, where he was given an injection of something deadly, and Clifford stopped living. I’m thankful that there are people willing to do that job; it needed to be done, as the poor old thing could no longer even find his way to his food bowl without help. It’s a necessary task, but probably the biggest downer in the day of any vet. But what if Dr. So-and-so started to like putting down animals? What if he never killed anything that wasn’t specifically brought in for that purpose, but he started deriving great pleasure from making the injections and watching the animals die? Wouldn’t that concern you? Shouldn't it concern him?

Or maybe a better analogy is the flyer I received at the church last week for a company that comes in and “cleans up” after a death, violent crime, or suicide. These people viewed it as a ministry, caring for families when they were at their weakest and couldn't deal with the grizzly reminders in the drapes or the rug. And God bless them for it. But what if one of those guys started to like the blood and guts? What if he reached the point where his favorite thing to do was to pick pieces of skull and brain off of a linoleum floor?

In neither case would society be worse off, I suppose, (grizzly jobs need to be done), but that individual would be headed down a decidedly jacked up, unhealthy road. And while the church might perhaps benefit from even the most blood-thirsty heretic hound, I don’t think it’s good for them (the hounds themselves) when they relish the kill like that.

Am I changing my theology because of a corny experience in a big room full of youth group kids? Nah, I’m not changing my theology at all. I just want another chance to be that guy who could listen to Geoff Moore talk about his “quiet time” or pop in a “Christian movie”—not without discernment, but more expecting that God might speak through it than suspecting that it’s a conduit of deadly error. This is, I believe, a needed repreive for me—a safeguard in my sanctification. And I’m not trying to tell you that I received some revelation through the mouth of John Reuben or the kids of Triple Beat. This was good old fashioned Providence at its best.

So why will Lent last five months? Because the forty days of Lent are really incidental to this whole thing, and I don’t think forty days is a long enough detox period. Perhaps I was already thinking of Brian McLaren's recently concluded self-imposed five year moratorium on discussing homosexuality. Five years may be over-committing. Five months, I can handle. And why bring up McLaren? Because the hardcore ODM guys who will undoubtedly see this as some sort of swipe at them will be horribly scandalized by the dropping of BM's name.

And Lent hasn’t started yet.

For the record, of course McLaren’s books are full of rank heresy (especially his last one) and are dangerous to the Church at large. But, for the next five months, the Church at large will have to do without me on counter-offensive.

If you’re still with me, then you’re a true-blue reader of this blog. I’ll still be writing during the next five months, still determined to know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified. Nothing at all, not even heretics and them humiliated.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Zach
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 | By: Zachary Bartels

Dispen-sensational, re-visited.

Remember when the Left Behind novels were big? Yeah, me too. As a Christian who holds exclusively to doctrines not dreamed up in the last 175 years, I found them incredibly embarrassing. I listened to the first four of them on my Walkman (because I was hammering traffic counting hoses into the road for a living and, having already exhausted all of my good books on tape, started borrowing from others), and spent the duration keeping score between three teams: Bad Theology, Bad Story Telling, and Downright Boringness. (Bad Theology won by a nose.)

Well, it's been almost fifteen years since they made a splash, but some of us still aren't over it. And so, my wife Erin, my buddies Ted, Brad, and Ronnie, and myself have started the serialized dispensational end times blog-novel, Beauty and the Mark of the Beast: A Dispensational Thriller.

Why even bother to parody a genre that peaked in 1997, you might ask?

There are several valid answers to this question, as follows:

1. We’re a little bit lazy. When you parody a living, growing, changing phenomenon, you have to stay on top of the latest developments. And it pays to work fast in such circumstances. Having already done satires of more recent phenoms (e.g. the emergent church and the New Calvinism), we thought we’d take a little break and just kick a dead horse while it’s down.

2. It’ll be back. Soon. Mark my words. Then we’ll appear to be way ahead of our time.

3. To us, pop dispensationalism kind of stands in for everything that’s tacky, embarrassing, and mockable about modern day Evangelicalism.

Click the graphic below to be raptured away. Comment. Subscribe. Repost/tweet. Etc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | By: Zachary Bartels

Christian Clichés (part 1 of 2)

I once belonged to a church that was known for its—how you say—lively business meetings. Just about any issue became officially "hot-button" and fierce debate was apparently in order whether we were considering buying new hymnals, choosing the color of carpet, or planning a mission trip. On one hand, I suppose it’s a good thing to take the business of the church seriously; after all, this is God’s Kingdom we’re talking about. However, when arguments heat up at business meetings, it’s been my experience that people are usually fighting for their opinion or their idea, rather than truly pursuing God’s will.

Case in point, I remember a "discussion" about possibly passing a church budget without knowing where all of the money would come from. Compelling biblical arguments were initially made both for fiscal conservatism and for "stepping out in faith." Before I knew it, though, someone was standing at the microphone demanding, "Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God helps those who help themselves?!"

Um, no. It doesn’t.

Thus the bane of congregational church polity: just as in a presidential election—where the well-researched, thoughtful vote counts exactly as much as the vote prompted solely by Hollywood or talk radio—so mature believers who immerse every thought and decision in prayer and Scripture can be outvoted by people who think "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is actually a verse in the Bible. (It isn’t).

This is all symptomatic of a much bigger problem. In a pinch, many of us are tempted to use God’s Word as a tool to get our own way. Add to that the biblically illiterate state of the Church in America and the resulting quasi-biblical exchanges would be funny if they weren’t so sad.

Am I talking to you? Well, let’s see…


Which of the following passages are actually found in the Bible? (answers below)
  • 1. "A fool and his money are soon parted." Y / N
  • 2. "Money is the root of all evil." Y / N
  • 3. "Spare the rod, spoil the child." Y / N
  • 4. "Be in the world, not of it." Y / N
  • 5. "Love the sinner, hate the sin." Y / N
  • 6. "To err is human; to forgive, divine." Y / N
  • 7. "To thine own self be true." Y / N
  • 8. "God won’t give you more than you can handle." Y / N

Well, how’d you do? Most American Christians may not know their Bibles, but we sure are good at talking in a pious-sounding Christianese, aren’t we?

Sometimes, as I prepare a sermon, I think that a particular point is going to be an amen-worthy, gasp-inducing epiphany, only to have it fall flat. And other times, I’ll just throw in a comment I hadn’t even intended only to realize later that it was quite profound. The latter happened this past Lord’s Day. As I preached on Nehemiah 2, I noted that the church speaks more in clichés that we ourselves have invented than in the terms of Holy Scripture (which is supposed to be our very foundation). How telling is that? Seems like an innocent problem, but it’s actually very dangerous.

For example, the early church, suffering persecution under Pagan Rome, used to have secret methods of identifying themselves to fellow Christians. One of the first was for one Christian to draw half of an Ichthus (a fish symbol) in the sand with a stick. If someone completed the fish symbol, he was assumed to be a fellow believer. That worked for a little while, until the very obvious ritual became common knowledge (James Bond they were not) and, before long, Christians were being dragged to prison in record numbers. So instead of one easily counterfeited signal, Christians shifted to a new code: one believer would begin a passage of Scripture. If their companion finished it, he or she was assumed to be a believer. Still not fool-proof, but at least this system required a heck of a lot more work on the part of a Roman double-agent than just drawing a line in the sand with a stick.

Do you think you would be able to convince the early church that you too were a Christian (assuming the language barrier was somehow not a problem)? If a Christian approached you and said, "You search the Scriptures because you think that that in them you have eternal life…" would you have any clue what comes next? Or what if they said, "All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for…?" Many a life-long Christian would be hard-pressed to pass this test compared to Christians of previous generations. Even I wouldn’t measure up—several seminary professors have told me how the majority of students on their way to professional ministry know very little of the Bible’s fundamentals—the basic stories, passages, and concepts that most everyone knew just fifty years ago.

Maybe today we should update this method and use our Christian clichés and buzzphrases as the secret handshake (or are we already doing that?) Would you do better at that pop quiz? "Let go and…" ("let God!") "What would Jesus…" ("do?") "It’s not about religion, it’s about…" ("relationship!") I’m tempted to go off on a tangent of how I despise most Christian clichés / buzz-phrases and why, but since this is already a spinoff from a sermonic tangent, I shall save that particular rant for my next blog post .

So what am I trying to do here, make people feel bad? Maybe a little bit (and that would include me—I have only memorized a handful of previously unknown chapters of Scripture since I’ve been pastoring Judson; this is something I used to do continually). But most of all, I want to encourage you to make God’s Holy Word (not our pithy proverbs and truisms) the foundation of your life and faith.

For many Christians, reading God’s Word has become one of the lowest priorities of their spiritual lives. They have to have the latest praise and worship CDs, know all the latest buzzwords (so they can be "missional," "incarnational," and "purpose-driven"), and of course they have to read as many of the religious best-sellers as they can get through in order to seem "relevant," but I submit that all of this is loss if we haven’t hidden God’s Word in our hearts.
What I propose is crazy, I know, but it’s clear to me that the Church needs (a lot) fewer ‘shacks,’ prayers of Jabez, and post-‘rapture’ hijinks and a lot more plain old Bible reading and prayer. Yeah, I’m suggesting you turn off the stupid TV and get your nose in the Scriptures. It might even pay off. After all, God helps those who help themselves, right?

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Zach

Answer: None of these are quotes from Scripture (although #2 & #3 are similar to actual verses; 1 Timothy 6:10, Proverbs 13:24)
    Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | By: Zachary Bartels

    Getting older...

    I'm thirty.

    No, that's not old in years. It's still pretty young. But old has several definitions and one of them indicates a state of mind. Some people, at thirty, are still more or less like they were in college (and still living more or less the same kind of life). Others are consumed with the daily grind or raising a couple of tweens.

    Now, I haven't much thought about it, but in the back of my mind, I think I've always just assumed that I'm on the "younger" end of things for a thirty-year-old. I mean, I still listen to hip hop and punk music from time to time. I watch a lot of movies and can follow most pop culture references. But upon further inspection, these are not nearly enough to hold me back from my relentless and apparently passionate pursuit of boring-old-guy-ness.

    So what are the signs? Well, here are a few:
    • My favorite cereal is no longer Cinnamon Toast Crunch or even Honey Nut Cheerios. It's Special K. That's right; if I could have any cereal on a given morning, I'd always choose Special K.
    • When I go to a concert, I don't want to mosh. I don't want to dance. I don't even want to stand. I paid good money to sit here and listen and that's what I want to do, thank you. Down in front.
    • When I read Calvin and Hobbes, I get a far bigger kick out of Calvin's dad (heck, I am Calvin's dad) than I do out of Calvin himself.
    • I think of ten-year-old songs that were popular during my college years as being more or less "new." (I seriously can't believe that Time of Your Life and Iris are actually a decade old; heck, the Coolio song in my last entry--the one that Erin and I used to crank in my car--is thirteen years old. How did that happen?).
    • In addition, I couldn't name one song that's on the top forty right now (if there even is still such a thing) and when I happen to hear said current pop music, I hate it 95% of the time.
    • So I pretty much just listen to podcasts of financial and theological radio shows. Wow, when I write that out, it's just... man, I'm old.
    • I frown when someone tells a dirty joke.
    • I wear a tie just about every day. And I like it that way.
    • I'm far more excited about watching everyone else open Christmas presents that I bought than actually opening presents myself.
    • I'd rather play Pac Man on my Palm than learn how to play some new photo-real, adrenaline rush video game. On second thought, I'd rather play cribbage or backgammon than any of that stuff.
    • When I employ slang whilst talking to the youth of my church, I can see them exchanging sidelong glances and trying not to snicker.
    • More often than not, the thought of going to a party drains me, rather than exciting me.
    • If the subject of music, television, fiction, newspaper funnies, shopping malls, etc. comes up, my first instinct is to begin a diatribe about how it used to be so much better.
    • I don't yet have the old-guy-up-at-dawn-ready-to-go thing down just yet, but I want it more than anything.
    • And here's the real nail in the coffin of my youth (at least by this particular definition)...I drink decaf at night now. Decaf. If my 19-year-old self could have a meeting with me, he'd beat the tar out of me for my own good.
    Okay, all you people who read this blog and never comment (I know for a fact you're out there, as you reference specific entries in conversation; besides, Google Analytics doesn't lie)--how about you comment this time and tell me your own litmus test for losing the youthful edge. Have you crossed the line?


    BTW, anyone can comment. You don't even have to sign up for anything.
    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | By: Zachary Bartels

    Jesus Saves®

    Remember those Taco Bell ads with the little chihuahua? I loved that little guy (although, I understand the actual dog was a female). He sure did want tacos, didn't he? As the series of commercials wore on, he was involved in more and more ridiculous misadventures in pursuit of his favorite mass-produced, Americanized Mexican food, at least once per commercial uttering his famous catch phrase, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" (accompanied by the extraneous and rather loose subtitled translation, "I want some Taco Bell.") What I loved about those commercials was that I could respect that chihuahua. Unlike the Trix Rabbit (who just reinforces for children the utter futility of chasing your dreams) and Lucky the Leprechaun (the unholy little sprite who uses dark arts to keep those poor kids from ever enjoying a single bowl of his precious cereal), that little unnamed dog was actually likable. I could see myself hanging out with him. He had some moxie and some attitude. While other chihuahuas spend their time languishing in heiresses' purses, this little guy had a goal and he pursued it relentlessly.

    That little rat dog resonated with a lot of people. In fact, he was such a well-liked mascot that people actually paid money to buy T-shirts and backpacks and bumper stickers bearing his likeness. When you can actually get people to pay you money for the privilege of becoming a walking advertisement for your product, you're doing something right. Hurray for America.

    But then America did something incredibly wrong; at least the American church did. Shortly after the Yo Quiero Taco Bell phenomenon had peaked with the rest of the populace, I started seeing Christians wearing T-shirts with a little chihuahua saying, "Yo quiero Jesus!" Riiiight. So what we're saying is that you can take out the name of a fast food restaurant whose only contribution to society is 435 ultra-fattening ways to eat the same six ingredients in slightly different configurations...and replace it with the Name Above All Names. Just pop out "Taco Bell" and pop in the Alpha and Omega, who was, and is, and is to come; the Living One, who was dead and behold he is alive for ever and ever and holds the keys of death and hades.


    Now, if you had that T-shirt, I'm not trying to make you feel bad. The fact is that I've owned more Christian T-shirts than you. I had them all: Lord's Gym, His Pain-Our Gain, Jam for the Lamb, and, of course, the really graphic picture of Jesus being scourged that read, "Before you turn your back on Jesus, take a look at His!" Yeah, at one point, I could have probably gone three weeks wearing only Christian T-shirts and never repeating.

    I was also the king of cheesy Christian bumper stickers. I used to drive a 1984 Grand Prix. I'll list its endless virtues in another post; at present we'll focus on the bumper (and trunk and back window), every inch of which was covered with Christian bumper stickers. To name just a few...

    • Jesus Is the Answer - But, wait. What if the question is ,"Who was the worst hypocrite to ever live?" Well, then Jesus isn't the answer. Someone didn't think that one through.
    • The Next Time You Think You're Perfect, Try Walking On Water - I suppose that's kind of clever, but... what's the point? Is there a big problem with drivers thinking they're perfect or something?
    • Got Jesus? - I suppose I could go off on another rant about copying the world and swapping a product name in for Jesus...but I've still got a soft spot in my heart for this one. I'm not sure why.
    • If You're Living Like There Is No God...You Better Be Right! - Black writing on white with flames in the background. I'm guessing hundreds of people saw this sticker and immediately repented. Thousands, maybe. Dozens?
    • Warning: In Case of Rapture, This Car Will Be Unmanned - Okay, even though I don't believe in a pre-tribulation "Rapture," I still find this to be a funny sticker. My beef is rather with the clumsy way in which corporate Christendom has to squeeze every penny out of every good idea. Case in point: there was a companion keychain you could buy that read, "Warning: In Case of Rapture, These Keys Will Be Unnecessary." Huh?? How is that a "warning?" Oh, no! Not [gasp!] unnecessary keys!!
    • A Jesus Fish Eating a Darwin Fish - Ya know, because if I decide that someone's scientific theory is at odds with Scripture, that means Jesus should eat that person. What??
    I still have some bumper stickers, but I've decided to steer away from the Christian variety in recent years. Mostly, because they've gotten even worse than the above. A few that I've spotted lately include...

    • Get the Ultimate Search Engine: The Holy Spirit - The font on this one looks like the Google logo. Can someone explain this to me? How on earth is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity like a search engine? As far as I'm concerned, this would make no less sense if it called the Holy Spirit the "ultimate fabric softener."
    • He Can Hear You Now: Hisonlyson - The last "word" there is stylized to look mildly like the "Verizon" logo (if you're not following, this is a play on those annoying Verizon wireless commercials that are all but extinct, in which a guy wanders the world, repeatedly asking some unlucky sap on the other end, "Can you hear me now?" and, as I understand it, greatly increasing his chance of developing a tumor. Why wouldn't he get a hands-free set if he talks on the phone all day?) Those commercials are bad enough, but "Hisonlyson?" That's the very definition of an idea that should have stayed scrawled on a napkin and never found its way into production. I'd call it about as clever as the "God and Moses" (trying to look like "Guns 'n' Roses") T-shirts or "A Bread Crumb and Fish" (think Abercrombie and Fitch. Yeah. I know.)
    • Honk If You Love Jesus - That way, if I cut you off and you honk at me, I can just assume you're honking because you love Jesus.
    • Try Jesus. If you Don't Like Him, the Devil Will Always Take You Back - If you don't understand why this reflects the worst possible theology, please schedule an appointment with me and I'll explain at length.
    • Too blessed to be Depressed - Because spiritual people never suffer from clinical depression. Yikes. We may as well make stickers that say "Too Blessed To Have a Broken Leg."
    • Calvin (the cartoon character) urinating on Satan or kneeling before a cross - What would Jesus do? Violate international copyright law, I guess.
    • HESCMNBCK - This one confuses me. It isn't decorated like a license plate, the colors and font don't suggest that it's making any reference to a license plate. So why are there so many letters missing? I don't get it...
    • jesUSAves - Of course, there's an American flag in the background. Church and state? Together? Aw, what's the worst that could happen?
    Christian T-shirts haven't gotten any better since I practically lived in them, either. Some of the worst include "Jesus Got-R-Done" (yeah, why not compare Our Lord to a vulgar, racist comedian?), "Men fix everything with duct tape; Jesus used nails," and "Body Piercing Saved My Life." Then, of course, there are a whole slew of Christian T-shirts that re-define common acrostics and acronyms. These are so random and unmemorable that the only one I can bring to mind is "CSI: Christ Saves Individuals." Individuals? That's reaching. And what the world does it have to do with investigating crimes? Can't we come up with one unique idea with some merit instead of constantly creating cornier versions of the world's corniest offerings?

    If you've got any of the junk I've described above, I'm not judging you (not much, anyway). But I truly do believe that we need to get away from bumper sticker Christianity. The depth and mystery of our holy faith could never be boiled down into a pithy saying or clever one-liner.

    I don't care if you've got a fish on your car or your bumper reminds us that your treasure's in Heaven. I'm just saying 1.) Your driving better match the message on your bumper, lest you drive people away from the cross, 2.) We need to resist the modern urge to boil everything down to talking points, and 3.) How you live your life says infinitely more to the world about who you are and who Jesus is than the slogan on your T-shirt. It's easy to slap "Free Tibet," "Save the Whales," or "Jesus Loves You" under your left brake light. But that $2 investment is an empty, meaningless slogan if it doesn't point to a reality in your life.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Pastor Zach

    (For more--yes, even more--on this topic, check out this sermon that I preached a few weeks ago).